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Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) looks on after a call during a NBA game between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
March 30th, 2022
Few teams are in more dire need of a win these days than the Miami Heat. Losers of six of their last 10 games, the Heat have seen their vice-like grip on the Eastern Conference slip to a half game as the 76ers, Bucks, and Celtics have all put on a big push in the waning days of the 2021-22 season.
The mounting pressure got the best of two of the team’s key leaders on March 23, when Jimmy Butler and Udonis Haslem engaged in an ugly pushing match on the sidelines during a lopsided loss to the Warriors. Clipboards were thrown, threats were issued, and chests were puffed out as the Heat went through a very public meltdown in the midst of their second straight loss.
Injuries have been a big part of the problem, as Butler, Kyle Lowry, and Markieff Morris have all missed time in March, but the Heat have also looked brutal on offense. Miami failed to crack 100 points in three games this month, and the team's offensive rating has plummeted to 21st in the NBA.
The Heat will have a chance to right the ship tonight against a Celtics squad that will be playing shorthanded. Boston was dealt a devastating blow on Monday when it was revealed Robert Williams III had suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee. The fourth-year center was averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks, and had emerged as the anchor of Boston’s top-ranked defense. The Celtics will still slip into the playoffs with "Time Lord" on the shelf, but his absence will be keenly felt.
Heat vs. Celtics tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET, and we have the three best player prop bets below.
Although Jaylen Brown entered the league as a prototypical slasher, he’s developed into a reliable 3-point shooter as his career has progressed. The acrobatic All-Star is nailing 2.5 of his 7.1 3-point attempts this season, and has been gradually increasing his range as the campaign has worn on. His comfort from beyond the arc has been especially evident lately, as he’s hit three treys in four of his last five games, many of them coming on stone cold pull-ups like this:
Jaylen Brown. Pull-up. MONEY 🤑pic.twitter.com/nYXoA4wbMO— Celtics Nation (@CelticsNationCP) March 23, 2022
Jaylen Brown. Pull-up. MONEY 🤑pic.twitter.com/nYXoA4wbMO
Brown’s improved 3-point stroke is especially noteworthy for tonight’s matchup, since only three other NBA teams give up more 3s per game than Miami. The Heat’s willingness to concede 3-pointers is a big reason why Brown hit three daggers in each of his two previous games against Miami this season, and why he’s a solid bet to hit the Over again on tonight’s prop.
Jayson Tatum has gotten a lot of attention for his scoring exploits this season, and deservedly so. His 51 and 54-point performances were both masterpieces that deserve a place in Celtics lore. However, a less-discussed aspect of his game is his willingness to do the dirty work on the glass. We get it, crashing the boards isn’t nearly as glamorous as hitting turnaround 3s or posterizing opponents, but Tatum does it as well as anyone at his position. The 6’8” small forward is averaging a career-high 8.1 rebounds this season and has pulled down 10 boards or more in a game 21 times this year. That includes an 11-rebound night against the Heat on Jan. 31.
Jayson Tatum doesn't see this pass in previous seasons, because he'd be up the floor on the dribble. Now, it's rebound, eyes up and long bomb all in one motion to get Marcus Smart a dunk. Also, mute the clip and I swear you can hear Tommy Heinsohn cackling with pure glee. pic.twitter.com/ad1gYTGmU6— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) February 1, 2022
Jayson Tatum doesn't see this pass in previous seasons, because he'd be up the floor on the dribble. Now, it's rebound, eyes up and long bomb all in one motion to get Marcus Smart a dunk. Also, mute the clip and I swear you can hear Tommy Heinsohn cackling with pure glee. pic.twitter.com/ad1gYTGmU6
With Williams unavailable tonight, Tatum will be asked to crashed the boards with even more ferocity than usual. Count on him being up to the task.
Marcus Smart can be a tough player to handicap for the simple reason that he isn’t a stat hunter; the defensive stalwart simply does whatever it takes for his team to win. On some nights that can mean filling the basket, as it did on Monday, when he scored 28 points against the Toronto Raptors. On other nights it can mean setting up his teammates, as it did on March 23, when he recorded 13 assists against the Utah Jazz. Smart’s ability to fill up a number of different categories – but not always on the same night – is what makes his combined points-rebounds-assists total an attractive prop this evening.
The last time Smart faced the Heat on Jan. 31, he pumped in 16 points, seven assists, and two rebounds. Bettors should expect a similar effort tonight, albeit with more boards as he makes up for Williams’ absence.
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